The Thai government’s proposals to encourage a million super-rich foreigners to apply for long-term residency (LTR) are unlikely to hit the mark. That’s according to investment gurus such as Global Partners who say the much-vaunted right to own freehold property is narrow and unclear. International Properties points out that the advertised benefits fall far short of the citizenship offer that some competing countries offer under their CBI (Citizenship by Donation) programs.
Thailand’s Interior Ministry is keen to resurrect the measure (buried and unearthed several times in the past) to allow wealthy foreigners to own one rai (0.16 hectares) for residence if they invest at least 40 million baht. The idea is backed by the Federation of Thai Industries and others who see the measure as a boost to the sluggish economy through inward investment. But critics point out that the measure will be unpopular with the Thai electorate and will be too restrictive for shoppers. For example, if a foreigner buys a freehold property, they can then only resell it to a Thai national.
Prospective property buyers will need to be part of the long-term visa program, the other benefits of which are limited to temporary tax incentives, the freedom to report to immigration every 90 days and a semi-permanent work permit. -automatic if necessary. But Business Insider, on its website, points out that the Elite card already offers a multiple-entry visa for up to 20 years for a one-time lump sum that requires no ongoing investment. Also, Elite unlike LTR does not require any medical insurance. Elite does not have automatic work permits, but recent changes in immigration protocol mean that attending business meetings, working for short periods in Thailand and even some digital nomads appear to be exempt categories. or ignored.
International investment firms seem to agree that the best way to attract the super-rich is to offer them a second passport. Business Insider lists 23 countries where a cash donation or investment, between $100,000 and $3 million, can buy citizenship immediately or after entry. Such a proposal would be ridiculed if proposed in Thailand where there is enormous sensitivity about foreigners “taking over” the country. Nonetheless, it’s the way to attract the high-value visitor we hear so much about these days.